With Tesla getting ready for a special delivery event on 3rd June for the Plaid variant of its premium sedan, the Model S, it felt like new rivals Lucid Motors were falling away from the spotlight right now. But in the past few months, there has been a cut-throat rivalry between these two companies, be it on the track or in the news spotlight. InsideEVs, one of the most popular websites about electric vehicles today, got a chance to experience the upcoming Lucid Air yesterday.
Kyle Connor from InsideEVs got an exclusive demo ride in a pre-production 2022 Lucid Air Grand Touring with Derek Jenkins. Derek is the Senior Vice President of Design and Brand at Lucid Motors. They drove around for a little bit of time in Jacksonville, California, with Derek behind the wheel.
First Impressions of the Lucid Air
Kyle mentioned that the very first thing that comes to mind when you get in is the refined quality of the vehicle. Being an experienced automobile reviewer, Kyle’s attention always goes to the smallest of negative aspects of any vehicle. However, Lucid Air offers a seamless drive experience. There is an overall elegant feel to every design aspect, and the interior feels very luxurious. Luxury has been the buzzword for CEO Peter Rawlinson, and he has repeatedly mentioned that Lucid’s competition is not with Tesla, but with luxurious German brands.
We already know that Lucid is targeting impressive performances with the Air, in a bid to challenge Tesla Model S’s crown. However, every bit of impressive performance is accompanied by a refined feel. This means that even if you’re burning rubber around a track, you are at your most comfortable.
Is The Air Ready, or is Lucid Motors still Working on Something?
Derek says that the human-vehicle interface is one of the biggest things they focused on. The entire vehicle was first thought out to ensure an immersive experience for the customers. And then they implemented this. Of course, Derek still believes that this car isn’t there yet. There are a number of things worth improving, and that is the cause of the shifting deadline for deliveries.
Derek says the major parts such as the powertrain are 99% ready. Lucid is working on the detailing of the product, which includes both the hardware and software. There is also some fine-tuning left. Getting the regenerative braking system ready and getting the brake feel just right is currently on Lucid’s list. The company is also working on the efficiency of its famous ‘drive unit’.
Lucid has worked on a very compact integrated drive unit during the entire development phase of the Air. This unit houses the electric motor, inverter and transmission of the vehicle. This unit weighs just 74 kg and is capable of producing up to 670 horsepower. And Lucid can fit one, two or three such units according to the powertrain design. Moreover, the entire powertrain design is developed in-house in Lucid’s factory in Arizona. That is one of the things Derek is proud of. He says the drive unit will take them forward in the aim to achieve ‘electric vehicle excellence’.
What will be Lucid Air’s Variants?
Lucid Air Grand Touring is their second-highest variant in the hierarchal tree. It is the extended-range version, with a rated range of 517 miles (832 km). It will be a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive capable of shelling out 80 horsepower. This starts at $131,500.
The Dream Edition will be Air’s premium variant, costing $161,500. This variant will also have a dual-motor all-wheel-drive powertrain, but the power output will go up to 1080 hp. This variant will go up against Tesla Model S Plaid+ and will offer 503 miles (810 km) of range.
There will also be two less-expensive variants. The Air Touring will start at $87,500 and its dual-motor powertrain will give out 620 hp. On the other hand, the entry-level Air Pure variant has an aggressive price tag of $69,900. It will be a single-motor rear-wheel-drive powertrain with a 480 horsepower output, but you can upgrade it to an all-wheel-drive. Both these variants get a range of 406 miles (654 km).
If Lucid Air does manage to provide the refined drive experience that Kyle has described in the video, then Tesla Model S will have a big competitor. Quality is not really Tesla’s strong suit at the moment, and if Lucid is aiming to take the competition to German luxury brands, you can expect them to have build quality as a pro rather than a con. Moreover, a refined driving experience will definitely give off a luxurious feel, which is something Lucid is hoping to achieve.
The dynamic pricing of the variants means that the ‘Lucid Air luxurious experience’ will start under $70,000. Of course, this experience will reach its peak at a much higher price. But with Tesla also increasing the prices of the Model S earlier this year, one can definitely expect a close fight between these two premium electric sedans.